Research Track

The research track student is expected to carry out independent research under the guidance of a research mentor. For completion of the degree, it is expected that the student has completed a research project that will contribute to a publication (current or future) from the lab. Progress through the degree includes the requirement to select a research committee, prepare a research proposal to present at a first year committee meeting, and prepare and defend a research thesis (see below for further guidance and forms to submit to the M.S. advisors upon completion of each requirement).

All requirements can be found on the Bacteriology M.S. page in the UW – Madison Guide.

Course/Credit Requirements

minimum of 30 credits of graduate-level work is required, with courses selected by the student and approved by the research mentor and M.S. program advisor with the following guidelines and in accordance with Graduate School Requirements. (Coursework Certification form)

  • At least 15 of your Minimum Credit Requirement must have the Grad50% coursework designation.
  • At least ten credits of formal coursework is required. This coursework must meet one of the following requirements:
    • On the pre-approved electives list
    • Approval of M.S. program advisor or the student’s research advisor
    • A student may count up to 5 credits from the General Coursework Requirements towards the ten credits of formal coursework if taken while in the program
  • A minimum of 12 credits of independent research (Research (990), Special Problems (699, 999) is required, although more are strongly encouraged.
  • Seminar credits and one-credit courses must be approved by the program advisor.
  • Students may request to have up to three graduate course credits taken prior to entering the M.S. program apply toward the 10-credit minimum. The student must provide verification that those credits were not used to satisfy any degree, major, or University requirements from any prior degree they have earned. Prior coursework policy from UW – Madison Graduate School must be followed. Decisions are made by the M.S. program advisor.

Research Track Milestones

student and professor talking at a table

Orientation Advising Session

During or before orientation, students will met with their respective advisor. In the orientation session, students review any outstanding prerequisites, discuss options for the first semester of coursework, briefly go over program requirements, and get suggestions on courses to take during their time in the program.

The orientation advising form will be used to facilitate the conversation with the advisor. When complete, this form should be submitted to the program coordinator.

Ethics Workshop

The Ethics Workshop has the goal of fostering ethical and professional conduct. This workshop will be incorporated into the Masters Degree Seminar (MICROBIO 875), and will occur every year in the fall semester. It is a requirement for both track options.

Students talking at a table
people sitting around a table

Establishing a Research Advisory Committee (RAC)

The student in the research option is required to establish a committee of at least three faculty: one member will be the research advisor, who is an approved trainer, at least one must be an approved faculty trainer in Microbiology, and the third can be a member approved by the mentor and the student. The committee should be selected by the student, in consultation with their research mentor and approved by an M.S. program advisor.

The Research Committee Selection form should be sent to the Program Coordinator by December 1 for fall admits and May 1 for spring admits.

The student will meet with the committee periodically (timing to be determined by student and research advisor) to discuss project objectives and determine progress and satisfaction of deadlines and requirements.

Research and Coursework Proposal and Committee Meeting

The student will have a committee meeting to present their research proposal to the research committee. The purpose of the first year meeting is to introduce committee members to the research project plan, to assess satisfactory progress in training, and to evaluate that the coursework completed or planned is aligned with research and future goals. To facilitate this process, the student will write a research proposal and distribute it to the committee at least two weeks prior to the meeting. Guidelines on the research proposal format can be found here, M.S. Proposal Format. The first year meeting form should be completed at the meeting and sent to the Program Coordinator. The Research Track Certification Form should also be filled out and saved to your box folder. The meeting and forms must be complete by May 1 for fall admits and December 1 for spring admits.

lab bench with plastic tubes
presenter at the front of a room

Research Thesis and Defense

For completion of the degree, the student must write a formal thesis, and defend it to their research committee at an oral exam. Guidelines on the format of the thesis and the oral examination can be found here, M.S. Thesis Format. The recommendation for award of the M.S. degree will be based on the strength of the thesis, the oral examination, and completion of coursework and all other Graduate School requirements.

At least three weeks prior to the defense, the student must request the final warrant from the program coordinator.

The student’s RAC should complete the Research Thesis Defense Form after reviewing the thesis and completing the student’s oral defense. This form should be sent to the Program Coordinator.

Important – students should review the Graduate School guidelines and deadlines for completing a Master’s degree well in advance. 

Research Track Certification Form

The research track certification form helps assist the student, advisor, and program organize the student’s progress to degree completion. It is a helpful tool to be used each semester to track progress. The semester the student anticipates graduating, the form should be completed and sent to the program coordinator.

Research Track Certification Form

Sample Two-Year Plan

Research Track

This sample two-year plan  is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it —along with their current transcript and Course Search & Enroll tools —to make their own plan based on their individual interests, career direction, and research (if applicable). Plans may vary considerably from student to student, depending on their individual preparation and circumstances. Part-time students will have a different plan and should anticipate more time to graduation.

The example plans assumes that students will:

  • Have completed their prerequisites prior to matriculating in the program
  • Have not completed the required program courses (Micro 303, Micro 470, Micro 526 and Biochem 501) prior to matriculating in the program
  • Be enrolling as a full-time student for fall and spring terms during their time in the program

Year 1 Semester 1:

Microbiology 303 (3 cr)

Independent Study / Research (5-6 cr)

Year 1 Semester 2:

Microbiology 470 (3 cr)

Elective* (2-3 cr)

Independent Study / Research (2-4 cr)

Year 2 Semester 1:

Biochemistry 501 (3 cr)

Elective* (2-3 cr)

Independent Study / Research (2-4 cr)

Year 2 Semester 2:

Microbiology 526 (3 cr)

Independent Study / Research (5-6 cr)

*Electives must be from approved list or pre-approved by program director or research advisory committee.